"I Left My US Job & Decided To Work For Women Empowerment In Rural India"
Mine was a family of four, myself, younger brother and parents. My dad was in Indian Airforce, and with him, we travelled a lot because of his transferable job and lived in almost all states of India and imbibed bits of every culture. So, now when somebody asks me a simple question where are you from? I am unable to name a state or city because my childhood memories become fresh, I can feel the warmth of those places, cultures and people and I feel everyone belongs to me and I belong to all of them. Thanks to the Defence environment which made me a believer of equality & inclusion, giving every human, every right that I claim for myself.
I did PhD in computer science and joined ETH (Education to Home) Research Lab, worked with Dr Vijay Bhatkar. He is best known as the Father of Supercomputers in India. I learnt a lot from him and in my initial days, we started working on a project on virtual classroom. In the year 2002, we created a software system with which we can take education to the doorsteps of remote and underprivileged students. With our software system by just using desktop webcam of those days, we could impart virtual live sessions for students. President A P J Abdul Kalam visited us and guided further. He told me one thing which I still remember, the real content is not in success or wealth, you can get that by giving and helping others.
Later, I moved to US for better prospects and worked there for 9 years as a software architect. Job and Career wise this was the best which could ever happen to anyone, but I always had a keen interest in public service, even when I was working for multinational companies, social issues were always on my mind.
In November 2016, I came on a long vacation to India and I happened to meet a lot of people and realised India has developed only for few people. The rest of the people have the same hardships, nothing much has changed for them. Then I heard about an incident in Shikoabad, a small village in Uttar Pradesh, where a woman of 42 years died because she used a blouse as a sanitary napkin. She died of tetanus when the metal hook of the blouse entered her body. It was shocking for me and immediately I thought I should do something about it.
Finally, I took the call, left my job in US, came back, started my NGO “Spherule Foundation” and now I am a full-fledged social activist.
I work for Women Empowerment, Menstrual Health and Hygiene, Sexual Harassment at workplace (POSH Act), Gender Equality & Inclusion and Malnourishment among children and pregnant women. People should have a right to life and security, to a sustainable livelihood, to be heard, to have an identity and I believe that with the necessary action this world is possible. In developing countries like ours, women and children are often the most oppressed, their needs and rights must be central. So, we are currently focusing more on issues related to them and outlining our social initiatives accordingly.
I also authored a book Moon Time for girls, it’s a comic book on Periods (Menstruation). People Questioned me Comic for Periods?? Who will read it?? But now this book is not only read in India but also read in US, UK, Scotland and many other countries.
Every 1 out of 5 girls drops out of school after they start menstruating. They don’t even know that menstruation is a biological and natural process and comic books visually display narration and create more impact on young minds, it remains etched in one’s memory for a longer time. So, I came up with the idea of writing a kids and teenager friendly book for teenage girls undergoing puberty.
My ultimate wish is in my lifetime a day would come when someone tells me, “Please shut your shop as now the issues on which you were working no more exist.”
Story by: Dr Geeta Bora
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